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Star Trek – Mirror, Mirror (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

Mirror, Mirror is rightfully iconic.

It is a Star Trek episode that spawned sequels on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a prequel on Star Trek: Enterprise. It codified the whole idea of a “mirror universe” in popular culture, to the point where audiences readily accept the idea of an entire world populated with evil (and possibly sexy) counterparts to our characters. Shows as diverse as Doctor Who and South Park have played with the concept. Indeed, “evil alternate universe doppelganger has a goatee” is a recognisable trope.

... And that was the last time Koenig tried to upstage Shatner...

… And that was the last time Koenig tried to upstage Shatner…

There is a strange irony to all this. The mirror universe is an absurd concept for a number of reasons, and that absurdity is only heightened when it becomes more and more iconic. Turning the idea into a recognisable television cliché inevitably simplifies it. Although Mirror, Mirror is very camp – in the same way that a lot of classic Star Trek is camp – it is a story that has a lot of interesting and clever things to say. These tend to get sanded off through imitation and repetition. (For example, despite wearing the “evil goatee”, mirror!Spock is “a man of integrity.”)

And yet, behind the striking iconic production design and the admittedly absurd premise, Mirror, Mirror ranks as one of the best and most insightful scripts of classic Star Trek. It represents a cautionary tale and critical examination of some of the show’s core tendencies.

Bringing the pain...

Bringing the pain…

Mirror, Mirror is one of the most memorable episodes of the classic Star Trek show. It has caught on in popular consciousness in a way that only Khan or Shatner’s performance style or Spock the Klingons or maybe the Borg can claim to have done. The “mirror universe” is one of those concepts that almost anybody with a working knowledge of popular culture will recognise. It has been repeated frequently (and often affectionately) since Mirror, Mirror.

The “mirror universe” is one of those concepts that Star Trek occasionally gets credit for inventing. While Mirror, Mirror is certainly the defining example of the trope, it was not quite the first. For example, the “Crime Syndicate of America” from evil “Earth-3” were introduced in the pages of Justice League of America #29, several years before the airing of Mirror, Mirror. It is worth noting that Mirror, Mirror seems to initially play the trope as horror rather than science-fiction, complete with atmospheric thunder clap and rising winds in the teaser.

Taking a stab at a larger role...

Taking a stab at a larger role…

The idea of an alternate universe was not even new to Star Trek at this point. The show itself had broached the topic of an alternate universe in the much-maligned The Alternative Factor, and Harlan Ellison proposed an alternate Enterprise in early drafts of The City on the Edge of Forever. However, while Mirror, Mirror is not the very first example of an evil alternate universe in popular culture, it is an iconic and defining one.

Part of that is down to the fact that Mirror, Mirror is a superb piece of television. Every part of the production is on fire. Supporting players like George Takei and Nichelle Nichols seem to be happy to given a chance to do something, and the production design is amazing. William Ware Theiss’ costuming on Mirror, Mirror is some of his best work on the show, finally getting a chance to apply his infamous “titillation theory” to William Shatner with an outfit that objectifies the male form. Even the Terran Empire logo is distinctive and effective.

Don't worry, Spock'd never do this in mainstream continuity... well, except for all those times he did...

Don’t worry, Spock’d never do this in mainstream continuity… well, except for all those times he did…

Sometime around Through the Looking Glass, the mirror universe became a bit of a joke. To be fair, even in Mirror, Mirror, the premise walks a tightrope between absurd and terrifying. However, with that third season script, Deep Space Nine confirmed that the mirror universe was little more than a pulpy action adventure playground. In In a Mirror, Darkly, the mirror universe became one more piece of classic Star Trek iconography for Enterprise to affectionately homage and acknowledge.

However, Mirror, Mirror is an episode that has something to say. It is a story with a clear allegorical point, and one which seems quite aware of the franchise’s developing place in popular culture. This isn’t simply an excuse for Shatner to ham it up in his small role as mirror!Kirk or to put Barbara Luna in a see-through dress with a bikini underneath or to put everybody in skimpier outfits with lots of gratuitous gold sashes.

Is it evil to want a little back support?

Is it evil to want a little back support?

The mirror universe isn’t a stand-in for the Soviet Union or Red China or any sort of foreign enemy. It has been argued that the Terran Empire stands in for communist threats and that imagery evokes “oriental despotism”, but these are rather superficial readings. Instead, it is quite clear that the Terran Empire of the mirror universe is designed to evoke Rome – perhaps the most iconic and recognisable “western” Empire in human history.

Marlana describes herself as “the woman of a Caesar.” The imperial salute is designed to evoke the salute given by gladiators to the Emperor. There is a very Greco-Roman bust visible in mirror!Spock’s quarters, quite clearly replacing the Eastern statues and sculptures that were visible in Amok Time. The device that mirror!Kirk stole to allow him to make his play for command of the Enterprise is named “the Tantalus field”, evoking the figure from Greek mythology. Like Kirk plundered the Tantalus field, Rome appropriated aspects of Greek mythology.

Goatee or bust...

Goatee or bust…

This applies outside Mirror, Mirror. Although not used here, the description of the Empire as “Terran” serves as a hint – the term originates in Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. The only time that the word “Terran” is used over the course of the classic Star Trek show, it is by a Romulan – another culture that draws heavily from Roman iconography. Robert Hewitt Wolfe drew on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire while writing Crossover. In a deleted scene from In a Mirror, Darkly, mirror!Archer appeals to “the gods.”

This is not the only time that Star Trek has dabbled in Roman iconography. The Romulan Star Empire were transparently space!Romans to the point where they had twin home planets named “Romulus” and “Remus.” Mirror, Mirror very cleverly borrows a few cues from the portrayal of the Romulans in Balance of Terror. The Roman salute is the same one employed by the Romulans. Fred Steiner’s mirror universe music cue is recycled from Balance of Terror.

He'll Takei what he can get...

He’ll Takei what he can get…

However, Star Trek would offer an even more overt version of a space-age Roman society in Bread and Circuses, with Gene Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon imaging what a present-day Rome might look like. In both Bread and Circuses and Mirror, Mirror, a Roman Empire that never fell is used as a reflection. In Bread and Circuses, it is a reflection of contemporary America. In Mirror, Mirror, it is a twisted reflection of Starfleet and the Federation.

It is worth noting that other writers have emphasised the Romulan-Empire-as-space-Romans-as-mirror-to-the-Federation. Diane Duane and Peter Morwood’s The Romulan Way hit on this theme quite heavily, as did Ronald D. Moore’s script to Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, which – on top of the Latin title – saw Bashir taking a trip to Romulus simply so he could recognise the Federation as “a twenty-fourth century Rome.” Cutting irony!

Kirk can see right through her (dress)...

Kirk can see right through her (dress)…

The “United States as a modern day Roman Empire” comparison is practically a cliché. It is fairly well-worn at this point, and has been in use for decades, applied to any number of contexts and situations. There is a legitimate debate to be had about the merits (if any) of the comparison, as Vaclav Smil notes in the preface to Why America Is Not a New Rome:

Much of this could be dismissed as just a fashionable wave of insufficiently informed commentating, irrelevant private scribbling, or superficial comparisons that pick out as singularly revealing some commonalities shared by virtually all complex societies, juxtapose a few analogical habits and preferences, and conclude that they imply identical long-term outcomes. But it is undeniable that the comparison does resonate for a variety of reasons and hence its validity (or lack of it) deserves a closer critical look.

The validity of the comparison is somewhat questionable, but the comparison itself endures. The Roman Empire is such a recognisable piece of Western iconography that the comparison to the current defining Western political power cannot help but suggest itself. (After all, it would be just as easy to suggest the British Empire was “a nineteenth century Rome”, and so on.)

"Chekov? You've been on the ship like ten minutes!"

“Chekov? You’ve been on the ship like ten minutes!”

Looking at Mirror, Mirror, it is very tempting to read the Terran Empire as a straight-up inversion of the Federation – an example of the type of fascist and oppressive political entity that the Federation could never be. A fascist Federation? The thought scarcely bears thinking about. One might as well imagine a fascist version of the United States of America. There is something knee-jerk about this reaction, like the oft-cited protest that “it can’t happen here.”

However, the spectre of fascism looms large in the history of various major Western democracies. Sinclair Lewis imagined a fascist United States in It Can’t Happen Here, with a totalitarian politician inspired by Huey Long. In 1938, the German American Bund was able to drum up enough support to host a Nazi rally in Madison Square Gardens, an event that was unnerving enough to work its way into the teaser of Stormfront, Part II.

The reich stuff...

The reich stuff…

The thought of a fascist government taking hold of America is particularly disturbing based on the country’s long and proud history of liberal democracy. As Bertram Gross reflects in Friendly Fascism:

The thought that some form of new fascism might possibly – or even probably – emerge in America is more than unpleasant. For many people in other countries, it is profoundly disturbing; for Americans, it is a source of stabbing anguish. For those who still see America as a source of inspiration or leadership, it would mean the destruction of the last best hope on Earth.

However unsettling confronting this possibility might be, it is necessary. As Karl Popper wrote in his autobiography Unended Quest, “‘It cannot happen here’ is always wrong: a dictatorship can happen anywhere.”

A very bloody business...

A very bloody business…

Despite what some of the follow-ups or homages to the episode might suggest, Mirror, Mirror is not a universe of opposites. The Halkan Council is peace-like in both universes. As he prepares to make the trip home, Kirk assures mirror!Spock that he is “a man of integrity in both universes.” There are universal constants. There are absolutes that cannot change. As comforting as it might be to believe that the Terran Empire is a grotesque inversion of everything the Federation stands for, the Empire instead runs in parallel, right alongside it.

The episode stresses the strange similarities between the two worlds. The implication is that the universal constants are no different here, only the people themselves. Inspecting his sickbay, McCoy is aghast. “Everything’s all messed up and changed around, out of place,” he muses. “No, not everything. That spot, I spilt acid there a year ago.” Scott reports that technologically the differences are “mostly variations in instrumentation.” Charting the ship’s position, he reflects, “Everything’s exactly where it should be, except us.”

"You are charged with scene-stealing in the first degree..."

“You are charged with scene-stealing in the first degree…”

Things are not as radically different as we might think. Everything moves in tandem – the two universes are close enough that actions and objects do move in synch across the universes. The mirror!Enterprise visits the mirror!Halkans at the same time that the Enterprise visits the Halkans. Kirk and mirror!Kirk beam up at the exact same time, through the exact same ion storm. Although it strains credibility, it makes a solid thematic point reinforced by the title. This is not a strange different universe, it is a reflection or shadow stalking our crew.

It is worth noting that Kirk’s glimpse into the life of mirror!Kirk cannot help but evoke Khan Noonien Singh from Space Seed. Like Khan, mirror!Kirk is aggressive and ambitious and violent. Like Khan, mirror!Kirk has claimed a member of the Enterprise crew as his consort. Khan was a sinister counterpart to Kirk – an alpha male with a desire to exert his will upon the universe. Indeed, Khan’s seduction of Marla McGivers is a play right out of the Kirk handbook.

Everything burns...

Everything burns…

With mirror!Spock and the Halkan Council, Mirror, Mirror suggests that not everything changes in the gap between the universes. So, what is the difference? The implication is simply that humanity’s history played out a little bit different. Tharn talks proudly of his people’s “history of total peace”, speaking about how even the loss of one life would be a betrayal of that history. It seems that the Halkan Council has lived entirely at peace for all of their history. They have never killed or waged war.

In contrast, humanity has waged war. “We have shown the council historical proof that our missions are peaceful,” Kirk insists in the episode’s teaser. However, there has always been an edge to those missions. The Federation, after all, is built from the legacy of a traumatic twentieth and twenty-first century, based on both world history and franchise continuity. The show is (literally and figuratively) a product of the Second World War. More than that, Star Trek itself has generally been skeptical of Starfleet and the Federation – particularly under Gene L. Coon.

Spock is not amused...

Spock is not amused…

Episodes like A Taste of Armageddon, Arena and Errand of Mercy argue that the Federation is an expansionist and imperialist power. They might come in friendship, but there is a clear sense that the Federation works for its own political advantage. In A Taste of Armageddon, Kirk threatens the planet Eminiar VII with “General Order 24”, an order to destroy all life on the surface of a planet. The fact that Garth of Izar is revealed to have attempted such a thing in Whom the Gods Destroy… confirms that it was not a bluff.

There is a very clear conflict in classic Star Trek around the issue of imperialism. On the one hand, scripts like Errand of Mercy and Arena call the crew out for their attitudes and preconceptions. On the other hand, scripts like Friday’s Child and The Apple seem to support Kirk’s right to impose his own standards and agendas upon less powerful people. Classic Star Trek was alternately horrified and enthralled by the idea of Kirk spreading his doctrine of secular liberal democracy to the stars in furtherance of the Federation’s agenda.

Oh, my!

Oh, my!

It is worth noting that writer Jeremy Bixby’s original pitch for Mirror, Mirror would like likely have played into that sense of cultural imperialism rather than against it. In that original pitch, Kirk travelled to an alternate universe where a less technologically-advanced Federation was engaged in war with the hostile Tharn Empire. The Federation was losing the war. In the original script, Kirk helps the alternate Federation by giving them hyper-advanced weapon technology.

This original pitch was completely different than the episode that made it to screen. There is something rather disconcerting about Kirk traveling to an alternate universe to teach them better ways of killing things. Even in Yesterday’s Enterprise, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation proposing a war between the Federation and the Klingons, the solution was to go back and prevent the war from starting in the first place.

Talk about hazing the new guy...

Talk about hazing the new guy…

In a way, perhaps this demonstrates how delicate the writing process was on the classic Star Trek. An episode could enter one end of the writing process with one set of themes and ideas, and emerge out the other side with a diametrically-opposed perspective. It is very hard to piece together one cohesive political or moral perspective from classic Star Trek, and the changes that Mirror, Mirror endured offer a demonstration of how easy it is for ideas and stories to change from one iteration to the next.

It also serves as an example of how much work the production team did on receiving a script or a story pitch – how much the input from producers like Gene Roddenberry, Robert Justman, D.C. Fontana and Gene L. Coon could shape and change writer’s work. Bixby would remain on good terms with the team despite these changes and alterations, contributing several more episodes to the show over the next year-and-a-half.

He's out of this universe...

He’s out of this universe…

On the subject of imperialism, it is worth noting that Kirk doesn’t make a conscious effort to impose his own values on the mirror universe. Although Crossover builds on the themes of Mirror, Mirror by holding Kirk to account for his meddling in other cultures, the episode suggests that Kirk has no such agenda. He initially plans to beam back to the Enterprise with his away team, leaving the mirror universe to unfold as it might. This isn’t The Apple where Kirk tries to “fix” a broken society. His influence is not premeditated or even considered.

It is only the last-minute intervention of mirror!Spock in the transporter room that leads Kirk to make his “one man can change the present” pitch in the “two minutes and ten seconds” before he leaves. Had mirror!Spock not arrived, then Kirk and his away team would have left without anybody being the wiser. In a way, this serves to make the revelations in Crossover even more affecting than they might otherwise be. All of that suffering was caused by mirror!Spock’s bad timing.

"This? Oh, I cut myself shaving."

“This? Oh, I cut myself shaving.”

Mirror, Mirror seems to play out the colonial and imperialist anxieties that weigh quite heavily on classic Star Trek – offering a very clear warning and cautionary tale. It is very much a reminder that “it could happen here”, even when “here” is an idealised version of the twenty-third century. Making the world a better place takes hard work. Maintaining an idealised future is also something that requires great skill and care – it is something that should never be taken for granted.

In a way, it makes perfect sense that Deep Space Nine would be the first Star Trek show to follow up on Mirror, Mirror – indeed, Deep Space Nine arguably has a stronger thematic connection with classic Star Trek than any of the other spin-offs. Crossover aired quite late in the second season of Deep Space Nine, when the show was working through its own issues with wider Star Trek framework in episodes like The Maquis. Mirror, Mirror‘s criticisms of Starfleet seem to recall Sisko’s own frustrations with the institution.

It's good to put your feet up every once in a while...

It’s good to put your feet up every once in a while…

Mirror, Mirror offers a rather cynical suggestion that liberal democracy is always much closer to imperialism and totalitarism and barbarism that it would ever like to concede. “We accept that your Federation is benevolent at present, but the future is always in question,” Tharn warns Kirk. “It was far easier for you as civilised men to behave like barbarians, than it was for them to behave like civilised men,” Spock reflects in the final scene, suggesting that building and maintaining a civilised world takes a lot of effort and refinement.

Although framed as a humourous zinger at the episode’s conclusion, Spock also gets to make another fairly bleak observation. “May I point out that I had an opportunity to observe your counterparts here quite closely,” he states. “They were brutal, savage, unprincipled, uncivilised, treacherous, In every way, splendid examples of homo sapiens, the very flower of humanity.” As with a lot of the best jokes, it is funny (and more than a little sad) because it contains a glimmer of truth.

For a guy with a middle name like "Tiberius", Kirk sure seems to have difficulty fitting in around here...

For a guy with a middle name like “Tiberius”, Kirk sure seems to have difficulty fitting in around here…

Mirror, Mirror is pretty much the whole package when it comes to Star Trek. It is exciting and fun, visually appealing, well-acted, charming, pulpy, but also surprisingly thoughtful and nuanced. It is an episode that is alternately absurd and horrific. In a way, it encapsulates everything wonderful about the classic Star Trek series, an episode that demonstrates how the show could be campy and ridiculous while still being smart and considered.

Mirror, Mirror is a fantastic episode and a beautiful piece of television. It remains one of the most iconic – and one of the best – episodes of Star Trek ever produced.

You might be interested in our other reviews from the second season of the classic Star Trek:

24 Responses

  1. Great review. This episode is rightfully a classic.

    I have to say the Terrans are far more convincing faux Romans than the Romulans. The Romulans might use a lot of Roman trappings but very little about their culture reflects Rome – the secrecy and duplicity, the bland service to an all powerful state, the secret police, the sense of culturally inferiority (towards the Vulcans) masquerading as arrogance… Even the eventual Romulan civil war is more of a coup led by outsiders.

    The Terrans on the other hand have a proper Roman attitude to climbing the ladder – Sulla or Octavius would have been well suited to the Mirror Universe!

    • I think it also helps that the mirror universe retains the Roman theme beyond its introductory episode. The Romulans were never really space!Romans in the show outside of Balance of Terror, despite a few cosmetic touches here and there. Whereas the decline of the Empire in Crossover is modeled on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and even In a Mirror, Darkly features shout-outs (and cut lines) reinforcing the connection.

  2. There has been some debate over whether or not the Doctor Who serial “Inferno” was actually inspired by Star Trek. “Mirror, Mirror” was originally broadcast in the US on October 6, 1967. “Inferno” was broadcast in Britain between May 9 to June 20, 1970, which means that it was written & filmed in early 1970. Do you know if Star Trek had actually aired in Britain by that time?

    In any case, “Mirror, Mirror” and “Inferno” are certainly similar. All these years later they both serve as early, prominent examples of stories featuring evil alternate reality duplicates, along with offering up now-iconic shorthand imagery for such, i.e. Evil Spock has a beard, Evil Brigadier has an eyepatch.

    • Ironically, Mirror, Mirror first aired in the UK right in the middle of the first broadcast of Inferno. Inferno aired between May and June of 1970, while Mirror, Mirror aired 15th June 1970. So while people working at the BBC would have had early access to the show, it seems unlikely that there was a direct influence.

      That said, I think the Pertwee era does have a very “Star Trek” feel to it – particularly from the middle towards the end. Again, it feels like this could be coincidence due to overlapping cultural factors, but the Pertwee era was a lot more “establishment” and “militaristic” than Doctor Who has traditionally been. The stories set in the future tended to focus on themes of colonisation and empire. Although undoubtedly motivated by contemporary anxieties about the European Community, stories like The Frontier in Space, The Mutants, Colony in Space, and the two Peladon stories could easily have been transposed over to Star Trek. To say nothing of stories like – as you mentioned – Inferno or even the underrated Day of the Daleks.

      It’s part of the reason I would love to see a crossover between Jon Pertwee’s Doctor and Captain Kirk. I reckon they’d work better together than most Doctor Who/Star Trek pairings. (But I’d love to see David Tennant’s Doctor and Donna Noble on Picard’s Enterprise. “It’s like you’ve got a space hopper and he’s got a Stena Liner.”)

  3. I love this sentence, which says so much in just a few words and summarizes so much of TOS: “In a way, it encapsulates everything wonderful about the classic Star Trek series, an episode that demonstrates how the show could be campy and ridiculous while still being smart and considered.” Yep.

    • Thanks Cory!

      I feel like a lot of the later-generation Star Trek lost the willingness to look silly or absurd; the later shows take themselves very seriously – which is generally to their credit, but means that you’d never get anything like The Trouble With Tribbles or A Piece of the Action.

  4. I know you’ll hate me for this, but I’m not a huge fan of the “mirror universe” as a concept or a series of episodes. Beyond it being really corny (in a bad way), I just think it’s not very interesting. This isn’t because I don’t like alternate universes, quite the opposite, two of my favorite episodes in the franchise are Yesterday’s Enterprise and Parallels, and in general I love the concept of alternate universes and its use in Sci-Fi (the Stargate franchise also did a number of good episodes with this concept), I just don’t like the mirror universe take on it. That being said, this is an excellent episode that stands well above its corny premise, with some great lines and great moral questioning.

    I fear from what I read of Star Trek: Discovery that it will be the last series in the universe to want to explore stuff like this. It seems it will be doubling down on the ultra-seriousness of today’s television that would look at something like this as too “silly”, which can either be a great or terrible thing, depending on how Discovery is done. I remain very cautiously optimistic for the show, since while it has a lot going for it, it also has stuff that worries me (I don’t think the 13 episode season arc sounds like a great idea, but if they pull it off, of course I’ll change my mind).

    • Speaking of Discovery, Bryan Fuller had a really cool idea for a Voyager episode involving multiple alternate Voyagers, similar to “Parallels”(I think it was titled “Whos Killing the Great Voyagers” or something :P). Given that he’s a good writer, it probably would have been awesome. It’s stuff like that I hope they can integrate into Discovery, and not just be Breaking Bad/Dexter/Game of Thrones/Hannibal/etc with the Star Trek label, if you get my drift.

      • Now that I think of it btw, the alternative universe/timeline episodes often were the best: Yesterday’s Enterprise, Parallels, Timeless, Twilight, in other words, Trek needs to do more of these.

      • I don’t know. There are a lot great examples. But the concept can get tiring if overused. There are a host of Voyager stories that don’t really register that play with those sorts of ideas, from Relativity to Shattered. (Even DS9 has Visionary, which is somewhat overlooked.) That said, I’m surprised they haven’t really done a feature film playing with that concept yet. I wonder if that’s the plan for Chris Hemsworth in Star Trek (X)VI.

      • I don’t think there’s a chance of it just being Breaking Bad/Dexter/Game of Thrones/Hannibal/etc with the Star Trek label.

        But I do imagine it’ll be quite like Deep Space Nine, in a sense that it will look very little like any Star Trek that the audience has seen before. Which excites me.

    • Well, I mean, the three big mirror universe episodes on DS9 (Through the Looking Glass, Shattered Mirror, The Emperor’s New Cloak) do little to recommend the mirror universe concept. But I think that Mirror, Mirror, Crossover and In a Mirror, Darkly are all great Star Trek stories. Even Resurrection uses the premise to tell a charming smaller-scale story.

      As for Discovery, looking at Bryan Fuller’s writing, I wouldn’t expect it to be entirely serious. Even Hannibal, by far the darkest of Fuller’s shows, has a very wry (and even campy) sense of humour to it. I don’t expect we’ll see the mirror universe, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the goofier elements of the original Star Trek slinking it. I love the idea of the thirteen-episode story arc, if only because there’s never really been a single season-long story in the franchise’s history. Even DS9’s seventh season and Enterprise’s third season had standalone episodes and both I thing wrestled a bit with the concept.

  5. Completely agree – absolutely love Mirror Mirror. Kirk’s final speech to Mirror Spock is so heartfelt and passionate, it brings a swell to the chest and Spock’s response, “Captain Kirk, I shall consider it.” is delivered magnificently. One of my top 10 episodes of original Trek.

    • It is a brilliant (and underrated) piece of television, isn’t it?

      • I don’t think Mirror, Mirror is underrated? It’s one of the most popular episodes of Star Trek

      • I’d argue Mirror, Mirror is crudely over-simplified and treated as something of a pop culture punchline (“goatee’s are evil! what if our goodies were all crazy baddies!”) when compared to the respect afforded to episodes like The City on the Edge of Forever or Balance of Terror or Devil in the Dark.

      • I thought it was the most popular episode? I mean fans even love the extended homage to it in Enterprise, a series that rarely gets much love at all.

      • Again, though, there’s a tendency I think to look on Mirror, Mirror as heightened camp rather than pointed political commentary. (It is the first of two space!Rome societies that the Enterprise encounters that season, I think. Which is telling.)

  6. Why did TNG totally skip the Mirror Universe? Even Voyager had a homage to it

    • No idea. I suspect it’s a product of the distance that Rick Berman wanted to put between TNG and TOS, to the point that mentioning the name “Spock!” in the episode Sarek was deemed massively controversial and led to a blow-out argument on staff. By DS9, they were a bit more comfortable with TOS iconography. After all, Blood Oath was around the same time.

      • Lol, TNG did a whole two parter with Spock though?

        IDW is doing a series of comics apparently about the mirror universe TNG. Looks cool enough, and the mirror universe is very comic book-y. I think TNG not doing a mirror universe episode was a lost opportunity, ah well…

      • It did, but much later in the run and to tie into both the twenty-fifth anniversary and the release of The Undiscovered Country.

        TNG never felt entirely comfortable in its relationship to TOS. Generations is perhaps the best example, it’s kinda like watching your old friends murder their father.

  7. When I heard that the mirror/Enterprise was working to promote ‘The Empire’ the first thing I thought of was the Klingon Empire, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t make sense.

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